Cupcake Wars: The Impending Bloomberg Battle on Cupcake ATMs

It's a sweet life--will it stay that way?

The New York Daily News reported Friday that cupcake ATMs or cupcake automats are coming to the streets of Manhattan by summer, to offer cupcake-craving consumers the 24-hour spot for sugar satiation. IBTimes reported Thursday on the phenomenon that is the cupcake dispenser; its presence as of yesterday was limited to the Los Angeles area, where health food seems to breed as social function rather than policy practice. But the announcement of impending baked goods, high in fat, carbohydrates and sugar, being available from an automaton 24-hours-a-day seems to clash with the Bloomberg administration's continually waged war on the city's bad eating habits.

Bi-coastal bakers Sprinkles, who have cookeries in L.A., New York City and eight other cities nationwide, plan on making cupcakes available to everyone in the city that never sleeps. A sugar rush certainly keeps one awake.

Usually eating late at night contributes to weight gain and disrupts your sleep, Jacqui Brockman, a nutritionist and dietician based in New York City, said. If sleep is affected, the immune system is weakened, memory is disrupted, weight gain increases.

One cupcake craver, Sloan De Forest, told the Daily News of an impending problem: If I get a cupcake craving at midnight, I'm not sure I want the ability to act. It's hard enough to keep it a rare indulgence already.

Ever-available, late-night cakes just seem at odds with the direction of the city's health-obsessed policy crusade. In 2006, trans fats became the immediate target of a Bloomberg-backed health initiative to slim down the city. In 2009, an eye-catching ad campaign alerted New Yorkers to the realisitc fat content of sugary drinks. The New York Times reported in 2010 that bake sales would be banned from school fundraising where children are present; that policy decision limited also what could be sold from vending machines in schools. Earlier that year, the city initiated a nation-wide campaign against high salt content in food everywhere.  Had lobbyists not spent a record dollar amount of $211 million in 2011 to foil a potential tax on soda, Bloomberg's health team might be revising the size of sugar-spoons as we speak.

I think it's too much to control, Brockman said. I don't think people should be controlled with what they want to eat. It comes down to the fact that education is the main priority. I don't think the government is going to have a positive outcome with any kind of control over people's choice with taxing sodas or taxing high-sugar foods.

Sprinkles cupcakes contain no trans-fats, according to a rep from the company. They do of course have butter and eggs and flour. They also contain processed white sugar.

There definitely seems to be a cupcake craze going on because of the convenience it, Laura Lagano, another New York City-based nutritionist, said. Unfortunately cupcakes can be high in sugar and flour and processed, inflammatory ingredients. Inflammation is what gets us into trouble. It's the root cause of chronic diseases, heart disease, diabetes, things like this. I'm not saying eating a cupcake causes diabetes. But it certainly increases the chances of that happening.

Processed food in general and processed sugars are digested a lot faster than unprocessed carbohydrates,  Brockman said. If consumed in excess, there is an increase of weight gain around the abdomen which in turn can increase cholesterol.

Lagano is particularly concerned over an increase in celiac disease, a sensitivty to gluten, due to increased consumption of processed flour.

When I began schooling 25 or 30 years ago, the instance of celiac was estimated at one in 20,000. Now the statistic is one in 133, Lagano said.

Too, sugar addiction seems to be increasingly treacherous ground.

You would not believe how many people come into our store and say, 'I need a red velvet cupcake', said a Sprinkles rep.

The only locale plans for the initial ATM will be attached to Sprinkles' already existant New York City bakery. The company certinaly isn't at risk of saturating an over-saturated market--the demand for the little cakes is high. Cupcakes are available almost anywhere regular foodstuffs are sold, at bakeries, and at the countless shops dedicated to just cakes of the cup variety. Here's an easy overlay:

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